Warcraft Movie Review and Analysis from a Gamer Perspective
For years, I looked forward to watch the Warcraft Movie. Even more when Duncan Jones took over the reins. I followed Duncan Jones on Twitter from the beginning and he’s demonstrated his passion for the Warcraft mythos countless of times, and I have witnessed his humor, and geekiness. He’s a down to Earth gentleman, and a true and proud geek like any of us. So it wasn’t hard to trust he would make a great movie adaptation. I watched “Moon” shortly after he was announced to be the director of “WARCRAFT,” merely to get a glimpse into his past work. It was a great movie.
I still do not understand why a large portion of reviews out there are so inflammatory and spewing hateful vibe toward the WARCRAFT film. I have never read any of the Tolkien books, but when I first watched Lord of the Rings, not knowing who the characters were, I still loved it. I was probably age 8 when I first watched Star Wars, and Star Trek The Original Series in the earlry 1980s. I’m right now watching Star Trek: Next Generation Season 6 — which tells you how profoundly I love the mythos.
I understand many of those critics and the general public has never read a Warcraft novel, or played the games. They watched the film with no knowledge of who the characters are, or what the core of the story is about. If you asked me what was my first impression after watching Lord of the Rings, I would say it was fun to watch, but I had no clue what a hobbit was, or what Golllum was, or who Sauron is, or what’s up with all the rings and the ONE ring. Or the Fellowship or who the flip Gandalf was. I had absolutely no knowledge about that story setting.
There were battles with sword, and magic, and a lot of it, but it was enjoyable. So it baffles me when I see critics call WARCRAFT the worst 2016 film. I have never seen anything like WARCRAFT before. It was also my first IMAX 3D movie. The orcs look so real, gigantic and powerful. Did you see how one of the orcs hurls a horse at one of the footmen? Crazy, right?
There was nothing difficult to understand about the movie from the very beginning. There are orcs preparing for a journey. Durotan and Draka have this emotional moment where he touches her pregnant belly, and both lay down to laugh. This is shown in many of the trailers out there. These are not those evil grotesque orcs you know from Lord of the Rings. These two are very … human.
Later on, you can understand that these brown orcs fear Gul’dan and do not like what his Fel (demonic) magic has done to the land. Nevertheless, they follow the Horde through the Dark Portal. That scene where Gul’dan siphons the souls of the draenei to empower the Dark Portal was epic, and for the first time ever we get to see what happens when you step into the Dark Portal when you see the loading screen in-game. You are floating through what seems like a goo pool in slow motion, until you reach the other side of the portal. That was so cool to watch.
We get to see why Thrall is green when his parents never drank from the blood of the demon Mannoroth, which was disturbing but totally made sense in this movie adaptation. I don’t recall any novel ever explaining why Thrall is green. so it was refreshing to learn how from the movie.
I loved to see Stormwind, Ironforge, Redridge Mountains, Westfall, Karazhan, and Black Morass. I loved to see a few comedic situations between Khadgar and Lothar. There were some scenes that seemed rushed, and may have confused non-gamers; but overall it was a great movie. Again, Lords of the Rings was a very complex movie for someone like me who never read the books. I still enjoyed it, and watched the two following sequels. To be honest, I had no clue why the orcs were fighting the heroes in Lord of the Rings. With Warcraft, even if you never read the books nor played the game — come on, you have to see clearly that these blood-thirsty fel-infused green orcs want to conquer these human lands. You can feel sympathy with Durotan and his brown-skinned clan wanting to side with the humans to fight their common enemy: Gul’dan.
I even felt sympathy for Garona — nothing to do with having such beautiful Paula Patton honing the role. Garona was raised a slave to serve Gul’dan, always in chains by the neck. Durotan frees her, only to be captured by Khadgar. Garona doesn’t trust the humans, but slowly she realizes these people care for her and trust her. Something she never experienced with her brutal orcish masters.
Whether you are a Warcraft gamer or new to the mythos, you will truly enjoy these epic battles with swords, axes, lances, and magical fireballs. ILM did an amazing job bringing to the big screen these massive battlefields, and the realistic orcs clashing with real human actors.
There are gryphons, wolves, dwarves and high elves as well in some of the scenes in Ironforge, Stormwind and Dalaran. So ILM did a lot of work there in over 10 months of post-production.
I recommend to go watch the movie and to ignore all the bad feedback from certain ignorant media outlets. Even if the plot may confuse you, you will certainly enjoy the special effects, and learn something from the plot. Don’t trust the media’s bad reviews. Currently, Rottentomatoes lists 26% (4/10). Who to trust: The media critics, or the general public viewers who watched it? The true critics of a movie are its viewers, and 83% say they loved it. Nuff said.
RETCONS (click to open)
Obviously, the general public has no knowledge about the WARCRAFT real-time-strategy (RTS) video games, the WORLD OF WARCRAFT massively-multiplayer-online-role-playing-game (mmorpg) video game, and far less anything from the over 30 WARCRAFT published books (novels, comics, graphic novels, etc.). However, there are a few things to learn from this Retcon list.
I understand that the story of the First War between humans and orcs, as shown in the original 1994 video game, needed to be adapted for the big screen. I understand the need for the adaptation. However, there were some liberties in reshaping what we know as canon lore. I don't have much criticism of what I watched, but I acknowledge that lore fans might get their feelings hurt in some instances.
1. Originally, there was no Durotan in the Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. Durotan was created for the cancelled Warcraft Adventures book adaptation Warcraft: Lord of the Clans (2001) by Christie Golden.
Acceptable: I loved the film adaptation, giving us the opportunity to see Durotan and Draka onscreen, to see the friendship between Orgrim and Durotan, and to see Durotan, King Llane and Lothar unite against a common foe.
Unacceptable: That scene was cornerstone of the film, but then Duncan didn't execute on that union. We didn't get to see Humans and the Frostwolf Clan fighting the Fel Horde at the Dark Portal in all its glory. Instead, Durotan calls for a Mak'gora before King Llane and his forces arrive. It would have been nice at least if Durotan and Orgrim's forces had united with King Llane's forces when they arrive. Instead, we saw a lone Alliance army get massacred, which I think defeated the scene where Durotan and King Llane decide to unite. That would have been the ideal thing to do.
2. Originally, Khadgar learns about the chronicles of Aegwynn in the library of Karazhan. That tower has a strange flow of energies where reality its at its thinnest, allowing you to see the past and the future. That would have been challenging to adapt for a movie, but I think what mattered most was to learn who Aegwynn was, and how she defeated the avatar of Sargeras 800 years ago as a basis for the movie viewer to understand what was inside Medivh. In the movie we do see Medivh transform. His face has a demonic semblance, and at one point we even see fiery horns protuding from his forehead.
Unacceptable: By not showing the flashback of Aegwwyn and Sargeras, the general public has no idea who Sargeras is, or why Medivh went all demonic suddenly. For me, missing that element in the movie adaptation is like The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring film not mentioning Sauron, nor explaining the basics of Sauron's role in the story. However, understandable because it would have extended the time of the movie, and it's just complex.
3. Originally, Khadgar and Garona find Medivh at the bottom of the Tower of Karazhan to fight him. Then Lothar arrived and beheaded Medivh with a sword. There was no golem fight.
In the film, Garona is with King Llane at the Dark Portal during the battle between Khadgar and Lothar versus Medivh. Khagdar is who throws a golem on top of Medivh, and Lothar flees away on a gryphon.
4. Originally, in the Warcraft: The Last Guardian novel, Garona and Khadgar fought versus Medivh. During the battle, Sargeras' spirit manifests above his host (Medivh) and transforms Khadgar into an older man. Then, curses Garona with a spell to mind-control her -- sending her to Stormwind to kill King Llane.
In the movie adaptation, Khadgar is never turned into an old man, Garona wasn't fighting Medivh in that scene, and surprisingly King Llane dies in an unexpected way that kinda made sense, and likely opens up the door for an even bigger retcon for the sequel with Garona as a key character.
5. Naturally, the original video game only had humans and orcs. The movie adaptation showed dwarves and high elves. Dalaran didn't exist until later in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, and introduced in the novels in Warcraft: The Last Guardian by Jeff Grubb. Medivh, however, was part of the original 1994 video game in Mission 8 of the Human campaign.
I'm glad Duncan added elements from the novels into the adaptation, even if those elements weren't present in the original video game.
6. Originally, Lothar didn't have a son in the video game nor in published books or alternate lore sources. The movie adaptation added a son named Callan (Burkely Duffield) merely as cannon fodder for the purpose of showing Medivh's trickery, add Lothar's mistrust in Medivh, and to give a motivation for the hatred between Blackhand and Lothar. Earlier, Lothar shot Blackhand's hand mutilating the limb. Killing his son was sort of payback -- using his prosthetic hand as the weapon. Then Lothar gets payback at the end of the movie. The time used for that non-canon son-mechanic rivalry could have been used to develop other canon scenes and characters from the mythos -- like Aegwynn and Sargeras for instance.
7. Originally, there was no such thing as Alodi in the original 1994 Warcraft game, nor in the books (in terms of the First War). Yes, Alodi made its debut in the Tokyopop Warcraft Manga. Yes, Alodi is canon. But Alodi did never talk to Khadgar in the Tower of Karazhan, nor in Dalaran. It was extremely out of place, and again -- onscreen time that could have been used to explore and flesh-out other true canon elements.
8. The golem fight during the scene in Karazhan did never happen in the video game nor in the Warcraft: The Last Guardian novel. Furthermore, that golem did not look anything like the golems in Karazhan. It would have been nice to mimic the look of the actual in-game model if Curator's felt out of place.
9. In the Warcraft: Lord of the Clans novel, Durotan and Draka meet with Orgrim Doomhammer. Orgrim sends two of his men to escort Durotan and Draka to a safe place after learning that Gul'dan and the Shadow Council wanted them dead. However, Orgrim's men were actually secret spies of Gul'dan and assassinate Draka, and then leave the dying Durotan in the woods beside his baby so that Durotan's last sight was the wild animals feasting on his baby. Durotan dies, but humans find the baby. Aedelas Blackmoore raises the baby as a gladiator with the goal to use him as a puppet to gain control of the Alliance Kingdom.
In the movie adaptation, however, things were awkward to say the least. Orgrim lets Draka escape. Later Draka puts the baby on ... a moses basket to float downriver. She dies alone. Meanwhile, Durotan who was supposed to die at her side, was instead at the Dark Portal fighting a Mak'gora versus Gul'dan (which never happened in the lore). Again. Weird.
Another aspect that I found strange is that we never see shamanic magic or warlock magic in the big battle scenes, but especially during the Durotan mak'gora where he simply fights with his fists. This is the leader of the Frostwolf clan. Least I expect is for Durotan to fight like a shaman, summoning totems, and enchanting his weapons with glowy special effects, calling upon the spirit wolf to empower his punches. At least it would have felt more fair a fight considering how Gul'dan wins.
SEQUEL HINTS (click to open)
To the General Public, you should know that the movie doesn't represent World of Warcraft that much. The director Duncan Jones and Blizzard Entertainment decided to make a movie starting from the beginning. The basics of the original Warcraft video game where orcs pour into Azeroth from another world through the Dark Portal. It is commonly known as The First War.
However, there was the Second War and the Third War, before the story shifts to World of Warcraft. That's why Duncan left a few sequel hints in the movie. The question we are left pondering is whether Duncan will skip the Second and Third War to focus on World of Warcraft times; or whether he will move forward with the Second War.
1. At the end of the movie, we see baby Go'el (son of Durotan and Draka) floating in a moses basket downriver. Human hands grab the basket and the camera zooms on the baby's green face. This is definitely making an allusion to Aedelas Blackmoore raising the baby later in the orc internment camps in Durnholde Keep (Hillsbrad Foothills).
2. There is a scene during the funeral of King Llane, where we see Prince Varian as a child.
3. Garona is left to join the Horde once more, and maybe in a position where she can guide the Frostwolf to oppose Gul'dan. At least that's what I could sense with how King Llane's death was managed in the movie adaptation, making Garona a central character for the sequel. Not canon, but if that's the direction Duncan wants for Garona, it might work. In the canon, we never heard of Garona again until the World of Warcraft era (30 years later).
I am still unsure why Duncan Jones didn't show the destruction of Stormwind. Lothar is supposed to take Prince Varian, children and families to the docks to sail toward the northern lands of Lordaeron. As a matter of fact, the Horde is not defeated at all in the movie. Awkward if you plan to do a sequel based on the Second War, because the First War hasn't been won yet in the big screen.
A few years ago, Blizzard Entertainment and Pocket Star Books partnered to publish a few novelizations of the Second War. So those who look forward to learn more about WARCRAFT 2 movie sequel should read the following books:
WARCRAFT was directed by Duncan Jones with a $160m budget. At the time of this review, WARCRAFT has made $24,356,000 in 3,400 throughout the United States in the past 2 days — ranking # 2 Domestically (US). In China, WARCRAFT has made $145m in 4 days. Worldwide it has made $286.1 millions.
Overwall, WARCRAFT was a great movie to watch, and the moment the Blu-Ray goes on sale I plan to purchase it for the extended material, and to re-watch the film several times.
IMDB rates the WARCRAFT movie with 7.7 / 10 from 51,675 votes.
If you wish to learn more about the original WARCRAFT lore I recommend these novels:
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